10 Waves Of You – Fields of Venus
Release Date: May 15th, 2015
FFO: We Lost The Sea, Trocadero, MONO
Strap on your jetpack, we’re going to the ‘Fields of Venus’ with 10 WAVES OF YOU and their blend of Post-Rock and the visual beauty of space captured in audio form. Perfectly encompassing the feel of what the 80’s thought the future would be like, this one man project mixes in electronic elements and vocal effects to create something that Bowie probably would’ve loved to get high to in his Ziggy days.
This album is an enigma of sorts; most Post-Rock I listen to is quite dark, this is extremely light and upbeat in comparison, and most ambient music I listen to is very much background sound, but this is extremely involved in comparison. It’s equal parts confusing and intriguing to me, and the only sure things I know about it is that I’d love to use it as a soundtrack if I ever made a sci-fi movie.
This album is beautiful from start to finish, and even more so when I learnt it was written for and dedicated to the artist’s daughter. The best emotional music comes from those who have the most feelings, and it’s clear that is 10 WAVES OF YOU.
Fav tracks: Darth Vader, Rays of Kid, First Lights From Venus
Altarage – Nihl
Sentient Ruin Laboratories
Release Date: February 26th, 2016
FFO: Portal, Plebeian Grandstand
Taking this week’s prize for best album art is Spain’s ALTARAGE with their debut album ‘Nihl’, a completely relentless and unbridled assault of death metal. Taking a leaf from the cursed pages of Australia’s own PORTAL, this band has a very similar chaotic compendium of influences from all metal’s darkest subgenres. Some tracks such as ‘Baptism Nihl’ show this more than others with a thick sludgy mix containing a lot of guitar low-end and bass played over raspy mid-range screams.
The musicianship demonstrated on this album is phenomenal, it’s easily some of the technically best death metal I’ve ever heard. The real champion in this album though is the mix, which is somehow raw enough to achieve the perfect merciless sound, but clear enough that nothing at all is lost. This is an album that where mixing could make or break it, if anything was any higher or lower it’d break everything, so kudos for the masterful production is in order.
PORTAL ripoff or not, ALTARAGE are technically amazing and carry the torch well. If you’re unfamiliar with death metal’s darker side where childish gore is replaced with Lovecraftian horrors, then ALTARAGE is a great starting point. It’s a very eclectic taste made slightly more approachable with the mix, and yet still I’d advise: Abandon all hope, ye who enter here, because death metal is about to get more ruinous than you could imagine.
Fav tracks: Drevicet, Baptism Nihl, Cultus
Lake Michigan – Further
Ruined Smile Records
Release Date: February 28th, 2016
FFO: Jess Locke, Harry Chapin, Wil Wagner
LAKE MICHIGAN has grown a lot since I last saw him on that split with VIRGINIA SOOK, and with a new ensemble of friends he has put out a spectacular album by the name of ‘Further’ this year. Bringing folk punk to its saddest, slowest and most soulful, these 8 acoustic tracks are everything you’ve been looking for to compliment your next night in of quiet introspection and browsing nihilist memes on facebook.
If I were lazy I’d say just read my last review of LAKE MICHIGAN and multiply the sentiment times 4, for four times the songs and four times the talent on display, but this album deserves more than that. Everything on this album feels more personal, like the window to the heart has been taken out with the rest of the wall around it, and now not only can you look in, you can walk straight through and be a part of the soul behind these songs. Like a polite host, LAKE MICHIGAN has even cleaned up before inviting us all in, with the production value being a drastic improvement on the demo quality tracks I’ve heard in the past.
‘Further’ was one of those great albums that is really hard to write about, because every time you put it on, you zone out of writer-mode and just enjoy the music. It really is an album that captures the heart more than it catches the mind.
Fav tracks: Boxes, Seasick, Vampire
Moral Straightjacket – Earth Is Not Good Enough For Me
Ruined Smile Records
FFO: The Doors, Joy Division, Jess Locke
I’m going to be honest, I don’t think I can come up with a better compliment for MORAL STRAIGHTJACKET than my coworker who overheard it and asked if I was listening to THE DOORS. Ever since that comment all I hear in ‘Earth Is Not Good Enough For Me’ is an angrier and darker Jim Morrison.
Mixing together elements of post-punk and psychedelic rock with two vocalist at different ends of the negative emotion spectrum, depression and aggression, MORAL STRAIGHTJACKET create a soundtrack for an acid trip desert pilgrimage. They end up sounding like Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas with a touch of the end of the world thrown in. It’s like they captured the macabre reality of a dystopian Mad Max future where for most people it isn’t car races and death cults. It’s a painful toil in a harsh world and an early death, with upbeat songs like ‘The Education of a True Believer’ representing false glimmers of hope.
As a two-piece with some guest synth work, I’d love to see how this translates live. The album has so much atmosphere, it fills your soundscape from the background to the foreground, so you get immersed in it easily, and eventually lost. It’s a great album to sit down to for a while and just let time pass until you have to come back to the real world.
Fav tracks: Earth Is Not Good Enough for Me Part 1, The Education of a True Believer, Sand Planet
Starchitect – Results
Release Date: January 30th, 2016
FFO: Serious Beak, Mastodon, Space Bong
Taking this week’s prize for best band name is Ukraine’s STARCHITECT, who surprised me with a sound that’s like MASTODON’s acid trip meets THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN’s ecstasy binge. These progressive demons have taken the power of the sludge metal riff to the next level, and excuse the lame wordplay but ‘Results’ are good!
As with all progressive metal, open mindedness and patience are necessary virtues for this mammoth hour of brain bending riffs and song structures. Regardless ‘Results’ keeps it fresh and heavy in every minute, making long tracks easy to listen to for the short attention-spanned like myself. I found that in its slowest parts it gets very similar to SPACE BONG, so you’ve really got to give it up for a band that can go from breakneck mathcore, to sludgey riffs, to abyssal doom all in one track. Although saying the music is dynamic is a gross understatement, I’d like to see elements from outside the rock/metal spectrum brought into the mix, because I feel that’s what really sorts the good from the great in prog.
As someone with a lot of OPETH fans for friends, I never hear the end of how good death metal OPETH were and how much they suck now, well I’d like to offer STARCHITECT as a filler for that void. While not quite being death metal, there’s plenty of heavy riffs and guttural screams to go around, leaving it far from the cleaner end of prog metal that consists of 99% DREAM THEATRE worship.
Fav tracks: Black Circles, Ltwo, Wastewalker